Read: Matthew 2:1–12 in the New Living Translation. Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Matthew was written for . . . ? Yes, the Jewish people. To prove that Jesus had in fact come from the line of David, and that he was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. It was written to prove that He is God incarnate, Savior of the world and restorer of the people. The book of Matthew is also full of Kingdom language. After all, we are talking about the King of Kings—Jesus—who is here establishing the Kingdom of God in anticipation of the Kingdom of Heaven. But at this moment, Jesus is not the King in anyone’s eyes—or so it seems. He is, in Hebrew, a mamzer, which is "child born out of a marriage," or "father unknown." We have all sorts of words to describe that state, none of which are particularly kind. Matthew wanted to turn this bad impression around. He was the only one one to record this story. It is all about how those first impressions—when people first heard about Jesus or met Jesus—even little baby Jesus in a feeding trough. How did they respond?
Herod the Great had a really delicate ego. He was motivated to be remembered and he ruled with an iron rod. He played the kind of politics that would make Nixon’s Watergate scandal look like child’s play. He melted his own gold in 25BC to feed the starving Jews. That would have been a lovely gesture if he had cared for them afterward. Caesar Augustus knew that Herod had backed Mark Anthony against him, yet he kept Herod in place. In fact, the Roman senate named Herod "King of the Jews" at the age of 33. (How ironic that another person was named King of the Jews at the age of 33—just as Jesus was, the true King.) Herod would have killed anyone who disagreed with him. It is recorded that Caesar Augustus said it was safer to be a pig than to be Herod’s son. Sure enough, five days before Herod he died, he had his son killed because he tried to grab power. And he left instructions in his will that when he died, lots of well-to-do leaders in the community were to be rounded up and killed, so that there would be weeping through all of Jerusalem at his funeral. Herod clearly had issues. His first reaction to the Magi from the East was to welcome them warmly in hopes of exploiting a new political connection. But once he understood what they were asking—who they were asking for—His response was utter rejection of the Messiah.
Recalibrate: Why was Jesus a threat to Herod and to whom is he a threat today?
Respond: Pray for the courage to stand up for those who are weaker.
Research: Who took over after Herod died?
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
Matthew takes time to note that Jesus was born in the days of Herod. Think about the world your child was born into: the technology, political climate, culture, etc. In what ways do you think this culture has effected and will continue to effect and shape your child? Pray over your child’s future that they will follow Jesus in all circumstances.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
Ask your child what they think the world was like when Jesus was a little baby. Donkeys instead of cars. Scrolls instead of iPads. Slow cooked meals instead of microwave popcorn. Take time today to tell your kid some stories from your childhood. Explain some of the games you played.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
Before Jesus was even born into the world, His life was filled with purpose. He was born during the time of King Herod who was trying to kill Him (not the kind of obstacle anyone wants in their first year or two of life). What are some obstacles you feel are getting in the way of you finding your life’s purpose?